Positive Effects of Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation and relaxation have been the key elements in bringing mindfulness to common daily practice. The Relaxation response, as described by Dr. Herbert Benson many years ago, has been used as the basis for the stress reduction programs at the Mind-Body institute at Harvard. They have found that the Relaxation response could be used to stabilize and decrease high blood Pressure, to treat chronic back pain, and decrease anxiety and stress in various settings.
Mindfulness Has been a key element in building resilience and preventing Burnout especially for physicians, according to research from Mayo Clinic.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress, characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion, a sense of low personal accomplishment, leading to decreased effectiveness at work and loss of enthusiasm.
Research by Sara Lazar, PhD, and colleagues, a Harvard Neuroscientist, has shown that using MRI to look at brain activity in fine details shows that meditation could promote neural plasticity, and is associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. They showed that meditation produces a thickening in 4 areas of the brain after eight weeks of mindfulness meditation. The most important is the temporo-parietal junction, which is associated with empathy and compassion.
They also showed a reduction in volume of the amygdala and participants reported reduction in stress which was also correlated with decrease grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.